Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Last Days of Rod Blagojevich

Looks like these are the last days of Governor Blagojevich. While there will be a collective sigh of relief across the land that we will have seen the last of this Governor's corrupt rule, it will neither be the last we see of Blagojevich, abuse of power in Illinois government nor the last of the corrupt political system in which the Governor arose.

It is important to realize that this has been a family feud, a war amongst the members of Illinois' political "machine," over who will control the levers of state government (and, thus, the money that flows from it). Ridding ourselves of Rod Blagojevich only removes the most public embarrassment that stems from the corruption endemic to the state's politics. But it won't change the fact that the state remains one of the most corrupt in the nation.

This is Illinois, as one political reporter likes to remind us. Corruption is endemic here. Abuse of power is common. It is, as Illinoisans like to remind outsiders, the price of getting things done. People accept it. That's the way it's been since people can remember.

Corruption is most successful when it takes place far from view. This appears to be something that Blagojevich never understood. Focused more on his internal -- or family -- struggles with the other Dons of Illinois' political "machine," the public (and the organs of government) were completely ignored, except when they served his purpose. What could they do? Like Gary Hart, his arrogance was such that he even challenged the world to record his conversations. Which we did, under the guise of Patrick Fitzgerald's office. So we now hear the things that Rod would say in his own "No spin zone."

The other pols in Illinois' political "machine" are not so visible. They understand that their ability to perpetuate a corrupt system or abuse political power is dependent on keeping their abuse of government out of public view.

But there is Hope! Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, not one of the Dons of Illinois' political "machine," will be elevated upon Blagojevich's impeachment. Quinn is a man universally acknowledged as one free from corruption, clean of the stench of Rod Blagojevich (who wouldn't even return his calls), someone looked at with suspicion by the PTBs of the "machine" here in Illinois -- in part because of Harold Washington brought him into his administration to clean up the notoriously corrupt/inept Revenue Department of the city of Chicago.

Pat Quinn is a man, last I checked, who was the only Illinois politician who has attended every single funeral of a soldier who died in one of the wars in which we were engaged. Time magazine called him "something of a Goody Two-Shoes," a reputation quite difficult to achieve in a state better known for its corruption than its "goo-goos." His distance from the corrupt governor was confirmed by Blagojevich himself:

By most accounts, Quinn hasn't even spoken to Blagojevich — with whom he was twice elected, in 2002 and 2006 — in more than a year. At one point, as Quinn was pressing the governor over taxes and electricity rates, Blagojevich said Quinn was no longer a part of his administration. "Quinn is known as a gadfly," Blagojevich told a radio station last year. "That's one of his charming qualities."

For his part, Quinn said on Meet the Press, "I tried to talk to the governor, but the last time I spoke to him was in August of 2007. I think one of the problems is, the governor did sort of seal himself off from all the statewide officials, [from] attorney general Madigan and myself [to] many others, and that's no way to govern. You have to be able to reach out and touch people and listen."


More to the point, Pat Quinn has not only kept his distance from Blagojevich, but also kept his distance from the family feud inside Illinois' political "machine." Which only leaves him as their next target when Blagojevich is removed.

Quinn has been hard at work preparing for his inevitable elevation to Governor. When it became apparent that Blagojevich would be removed from office, he created the Illinois Reform Commission. Several news reports note that Quinn has been laying the groundwork for a smooth transition. He's promised to do two things that have rankled average people in Illinois, live in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield (Blagojevich wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars flying back and forth from Chicago to Springfield while the Legislature was in session -- which is supposed to last a mere two months) and remove the gigantic signs over Illinois' tollways with Rod Blagojevich's name on them. Quinn called these "a symbol of 'pompous government.'"

The challenge facing Pat Quinn in Illinois is the same one facing Barack Obama in Washington: changing the course of politics in their respective capitols. The impeachment of Rod Blagojevich was not an rising of a public (or government) horrified by Blagojevich's eggregious abuses, but the end-game of a long internal battle for power and control of a corrupted system. Our new governor will have his work cut out for him, and will need all of our support.

One national reporter (and I've forgotten who he was) keeps asking, Why didn't someone say something before Hospital Executive 1 was being extorted for $50,000? The answer is simple: people here in Illinois are so accustomed to the corruption in the state's politics that it doesn't occur to them to speak out about it. Everyone already knows. And speaking out could cost you your job, even in the private sector. The real answer, then, is fear. People are afraid, and Pat Quinn can't change anything about Illinois' politics until he can diminish the fear that average people have about speaking out about the corruption and abuses of power they see regularly in their government.

The smart politicians in Illinois have figured out just where are the fine lines are in ethics and reform laws. And they've figured out numerous ways around them. Blagojevich's rush for money before December 31st was merely another in an attempt to circumvent our good government laws. While one violator may be removed, others remain. Pat Quinn will soon enter the lion's den. With our help, he won't be alone.

You can visit Pat Quinn's websites here:

Campaign Site
Standing Up for Illinois, Office of Lt Governor Pat Quinn
Reform Illinois Now

14 comments:

Bill Baar 10:53 AM  

The answer is simple: people here in Illinois are so accustomed to the corruption in the state's politics that it doesn't occur to them to speak out about it.

So what was occuring in Quinn and Obama's minds amidst the sleaze...our two virgins in the whore house of Illinois politics...what in the world to you think our lads were doing Bored? Too stupid to see what was around them?

How many Vets were passed over for State Jobs while Quinn and Obama endorsed the Guv in 2006?

Or better yet, what fools do you take us for with a post like this.

bored now 11:06 AM  

feel free to defend the sleaze (or, at least, your side's sleaze). the average person would realize that obama and quinn's career's were designed to bring change from the sleazy environment you defend. i realize that upsets you, and you will continue to fight their efforts to reform politics in the land...

Bill Baar 11:17 AM  

Neither of these guys has a history of reform... Quinn at least while Lt Guv... heck he gave the Guv a pass over the gifts to the Guv's kids.

All of Obama's staff have been subepeoned over this mess too...Emanuel, Axelrod, Jarret...

They're not going to bring any reform.

Looks to me like Quinn is going to be hardpressed to raise cash for a campaign and not take a fall for a tax increase... that looks like continued stagnation to me for Illinois.

Bill Baar 11:18 AM  

Besides that bored, you blame the people of Illinois for this... why not just blame the people foolish enough to vote twice for the Guv... and ask yourselv how many of your friends you can count among those voters.

bored now 11:24 AM  

bill, you must have a guilty conscience. once again, feel free to show where i said i blamed the people of illinois. an honest reader would have noted that i said that the reason illinoisans hadn't made more out of the corruption they've witnessed was because they were afraid. an intelligent reader would have understood that i blamed a corrupt system, not the people who's will is basically suppressed because of it.

but, as a defender of conservative sleaze in the state (and, no doubt, the only illinois governor *currently* in jail!), you have to ignore what i've said and posit strawman arguments that allow you your apology for the sleaze. it's a sad, but completely predictable, reaction from you. i can only feel sorry that you are trapped by your hypocrisy...

Bill Baar 11:46 AM  

...people here in Illinois are so accustomed to the corruption in the state's politics that it doesn't occur to them to speak out about it.

As a guy who's lived almost all his life here, I'm offended.

I voted for Ryan because I bought the social liberals line about Poshard.

I voted first time for Blago because I thought he was a reformer.

I've been burned enough by liberals and progressivism.

The Guv is where Liberalism / Progressivism have lead us.

bored now 12:02 PM  

only an idiot would describe rod blagojevich as a liberal or a progressive -- presuming that one is intelligent enough to understand the meaning of those two words.

rod blagojevich is nothing but a corrupt pol. you should be embarrassed that you voted for the last two governors -- both of whom will have spent time in jail -- and even more embarrassed by your continual defense of the machine and your stern opposition to its opponents (like obama and quinn). when you look into the mirror, you will realize that you are responsible for the corrupt system in illinois, because you've supported it and continue to defend it. your fierce dissent against those who seek to change this system says it all. i'd be ashamed. i'd want to crawl under a rock. thankfully, i don't have to live with your conscience. i'll continue to stand with those who oppose our corrupt system and seek its reform...

Bill Baar 1:50 PM  

When did Obama ever fight the machine?

Quinn endorsed Blago in 2006 and explicitly refuted the evidence of the gifts to the Blagojevich Children.

We all knew better in 2006. I voted for Topinka. (Did you bored?)

I admit to voting almost straight Democratic tickets from 1972 through Gore Leiberman.... except for Socialist Frank Zeidler in 76, and then for Obama over Keyes....

Shame on me...

Blagojevich is a Liberal Progressive poster child with ALL KIDs, the vaccines, telling us Madigan a close Republican... he ran as a reformer first time around and I believed him...

shame on me again....

But it will be a very long time before I ever vote for an Illinois Democrat again...

bored now 2:13 PM  

we simply disagree. you voted for criminals and elevated them to governor. i didn't. you support illinois' political machine. i don't. you support illinois' corrupt system and its abuse of government. i don't. you vehemently oppose reform of illinois' political system. i support that. we have different values. i'm offended by the corrupt, criminal political system that you defend. you're offended that someone points out that it's corrupt and criminal -- and you voted for it. we disagree.

the one thing we *can* agree on: shame on you!

CJ 4:40 PM  

My Open Letter to the soon to be former governor.

http://crimesandjustice.com/2009/01/bye-governor-blagojevic/

The Intellectual Redneck 6:31 PM  

Illinois senate tells Rod Blagojevich to not let the door hit him in the butt on the way out

Personally, I am going to miss this guy. He epitomizes the worst of Democratic politics.

News Review 7:41 PM  

It's good that Blagojevich has been finally removed. We hope that the successor will do a better jobs.. Based on his background and what people say about him, I think he will be a leader.. Hope that he will not be tempted to abuse his power just like Blagojevich did..

Yellow Dog Democrat 9:45 AM  

=== While one violator may be removed, others remain. ===

Names please!

Anyone can toss around allegations like horseshoes, hoping they land close enough to score points.

If you have evidence that someone else is violating the law, give us the names and the evidence. Better yet, give it to the U.S. Attorney.

Illinoize and Illinois deserve better than shotgun allegations.

bored now 11:18 AM  

YDD, i'd be shocked if you thought that corruption and abuse of (political/governmental) power was confined to the reign of rod blagojevich.

but, since you asked, i will repeat my extreme discomfort with the concentration of political power in the hands of a single person or family in this state. while you could argue that the speaker has been successful at regaining a majority in the house, he's been a complete failure as a party chair. near as i can tell, madigan spends more time in his duties as committeeman than he does as party chair. i've probably been to 20 to two dozen democratic party events outside of illinois in the last four years (not including the convention) and madigan wasn't at a single one.

the prospect of his daughter as governor (while he remains speaker & party chair) sets up a more conducive environment for abuse of power than anything rod blagojevich ever knew. certainly part of cleaning up illinois government is divesting the speaker of his multiple duties, especially given the fact that he clearly does not have the time or inclination to spend on them. the taint of illinois' corrupt political system remains, and i seriously doubt it will be changed anytime soon.

is that specific enough for you?

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